(New Style) • August 1st (Old Style)
Seven Maccabees, their mother Solomonia and Eleazar the priest
suffered for the purity of the faith of Israel under King Antiochus,
called by some "Epiphanos," the "enlightened one"
and by others "Epimanis" the "insane one." Because
of the great sins in Jerusalem and especially the vying over priestly
authority and crimes committed during the occasion of this struggle,
God permitted a great calamity on the Holy City. After that, Antiochus
wanted by any means to impose upon the Jews the idolatry of the
Hellenes in place of their faith in the one living God and he did
everything toward this goal. Assisting Antiochus in his intention were
some treacherous high priests and other elders of Jerusalem. On one
occasion, King Antiochus himself came to Jerusalem and ordered that
all Jews eat the meat of swine, contrary to the Law of Moses, for
eating pork was an apparent sign that one has disowned the faith of
Israel. The elder Eleazar, a priest and one of the seventy translators
of the Old Testament into the Greek language (the Septuagint) would
not partake of pork. Because of that, Eleazar was tortured and burned.
Returning to Antioch, the king took with him the seven sons called the
Maccabees and their mother Solomonia. The seven Maccabean brothers
were called: Avim, Antonius, Eleazar, Gurius, Eusebon, Achim and
Marcellus. Before the eyes of their mother, the wicked king tortured
the sons, one by one, ripping the skin from their faces and,
afterward, casting them into the fire. They all bravely endured
torture and death but they did not disown their faith. Finally, when
the mother saw her last son, the three-year old in the fire, she
leaped into the flames and was consumed in the fire rendering her soul
to God. They all suffered honorably for the faith in the one living
God about one hundred eighty years before Christ.
Procession of the Honorable Cross
feast was instituted by a mutual agreement of the Greeks and Russians
at the time of the Greek Emperor Manuel and the Russian Prince Andrew
in commemoration of the simultaneous victories of the Russians over
the Bulgarians and the Greeks over the Saracens. In both of these
battles, crosses were carried by the armies from which heavenly rays
shone. It was therefore instituted that, on August 1, the Cross be
carried first to the middle of the Church of the Divine Wisdom (Hagia
Sophia) and after that, along the streets for the people to venerate
as a commemoration of the miraculous help of the Cross in previous
battles. This was not an ordinary cross but the true Honorable Cross
which was kept in the church of the imperial court. On July 31, the
Honorable Cross was carried from the imperial court to the Church of
the Holy Wisdom of God and from there it was carried along the streets
for the consecration of the earth and the air. Finally, on August 14,
it was again returned to the church of the imperial palace.
Nine Holy Martyrs
names of these martyrs were: Leontius, Attus, Alexander, Cindeus,
Mnesitheus, Cyriacus, Menaeus, Catunus and Eucleus. Leontius was a
carpenter and the others were farmers. Because of their bold
confession of the Faith of Christ and because of their destruction of
the temple of Artemis, they were cruelly tortured and beheaded in
Perga of Pamphylia during the reign of Diocletian and became heirs of
the Kingdom of Christ.
man usually protects himself by hypocrisy and the strong man protects
himself by tyranny. That no man can defend his life before God either
by hypocrisy or by tyranny is clearly shown to us by the example of
the holy elder Eleazar and King Antiochus. When the tyrannical king
brought Eleazar to trial and compelled him to eat pork if he desired
to save his life, Eleazar adamantly rejected that. Then some of
Eleazar friends handed him a piece of other meat, not swine's meat,
begging him to eat that in the presence of the king and the people in
order to safeguard both his life and his conscience. The elder refused
this offer saying to his friends: "Hypocrisy is not becoming to
me an old man to the scandal of many young people." The elder
Eleazar was slain in the body but he saved his soul. The punishment of
God came upon the tyrannical King Antiochus while he was still living.
A dreadful disease from within overcame him and his body swarmed with
worms and the stench from his body spread afar. In his despair, the
king remembered the shedding of the innocent blood of thousands and
thousands of human beings who, by his order, were unmercifully
murdered and, frightened of God, he began to confess the one God whom,
before that, he persecuted by persecuting His faithful ones. However,
heavenly mercy did not manifest itself on him.
contemplate the punishment of God upon Israel (Judges 10):
the Israelites committed that which was evil before the Lord,
worshipping the Syrian, Sidonian and Moabite idols and others;
the Lord handed them over in bondage to the Philistines who, for
eighteen years, trampled upon them and crushed them;
dreadful is the Lord toward apostates from the yrue Faith.
vision of Isaiah, the son of Amos" (Isaiah 1:1).
has understanding can know the one and true God. He, who is without
understanding, let him listen to the one who understands and the one
who understands and the other (who listens) will be saved. It is
possible to clearly know God from created nature and still more
clearly, from the inspired men of God and most clearly from the Lord
Christ. The inspired men of God before Christ were the prophets. Among
the first was Isaiah, the son of Amos. The Spirit of God opened his
sight and he saw that which other men did not see. That is why he
called his message to his people "a vision" (or apparition).
How the prophets saw the heavenly mysteries and the mysteries of
future events cannot be described: that can only be experienced by
those to whom God gives that gift.
visions of the holy prophets are true, for those words and those
heavenly appearances from these visions, have actually been confirmed
later on. They are true because they served for the good of men,
turning them from evil to good. Furthermore, they are true because the
prophets fearlessly declared them without regard of the suffering
which befell them and even without regard for the bitter death which
many of them suffered.
Isaiah receive from the world and from men for his visions? Riches or
honor or an exalted calling? The Jews sawed him in half! This is the
riches, this is the honor and this is the glory of the prophet to
suffer for the truth of God!
let us listen to the prophets of God for they are the paths that lead
to the city of the Great King; they are the rays of the Sun of
Righteousness Christ which on a distant sphere illumines men with the
heavenly light, pointing out the Sun to them.
Christ, Who revealed Yourself through the prophets and prepared the
way for Your descent into our valley, help us. Help us to recognize
Your light and Your providence in Your holy prophets.
(New Style) • August 2nd (Old Style)
Finding and Translation of the Relics of St. Stephen, the Archdeacon
wicked Jews slew St. Stephen by stoning, they left his body for the
dogs to consume. However, God's Providence intended otherwise. The
martyr's body lay in an open place at the foothill of the city for one
night and two days. The second night Gamaliel, Paul's teacher and
secretly a disciple of Christ, came and removed the body and took it
to Caphargamala on his estate and there he honorably buried it in a
cave. Gamaliel also buried his friend Nicodemus who died weeping over
the grave of Stephen in the same cave. Gamaliel also buried his
baptized son Abibus there and according to his will, was buried there
also. Since that time, many centuries passed and no one living knew
where the body of St. Stephen was buried. However, in the year 415
A.D. during the reign of John, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Gamaliel
appeared three times in a dream to Lucian, the priest at Caphargamala
and, at length, related everything to him concerning the burial of all
the afore-mentioned showing him the exact spot of their forgotten
graves. Excited by this dream Lucian informed the patriarch and with
his blessing went with a group of men and exhumed the four graves.
Gamaliel had already told him in the dream whose grave was which. A
strong sweet-smelling fragrance from the relics of the saints
permeated the entire cave. The relics of St. Stephen were then
solemnly translated to Zion and honorably buried there and the relics
of the remaining three were moved to a hill above the cave and were
placed in a church. That day, many healings of the sick occurred by
the relics of St. Stephen. Later on, St. Stephen's relics were
translated to Constantinople. Thus the Lord crowned him with much
glory who, for His Name, shed his blood.
Priestly-Martyr Stephen, the Pope of Rome, and other with him
was Pope of Rome between the years 253-257 A.D. He struggled against
the heretic Novatian. He cured Lucilla, the daughter of Nemesius, the
tribune and baptized them both. Stephen, with twelve of his clerics,
suffered during the reign of Valerian. He was beheaded during the
celebration of the Liturgy.
Holy and Blessed Basil, "Fool for Christ" of Moscow
father was named Jacob and his mother Anna. At age sixteen, he
dedicated himself to a life of asceticism as a "Fool for
Christ" and in this difficult mortification persevered for
seventy-two years. Altogether, he lived to be eighty-eight years old.
He traveled barefooted, bareheaded and in rags. He did not have any
permanent dwelling place. He admonished sinners, reprimanded the
noblemen, prophesied the truth and had visions of distant places.
Having suffered greatly from hunger, frost and from the insults of
men, Blessed Basil presented his holy soul to God. Tsar Ivan, with the
Metropolitan, attended his funeral. He is buried in Moscow in the
Church of the Most-holy Birth-giver of God, later named after him.
be patient and merciful toward the sinner if we wish that a
long-suffering (patient) God be merciful to us. The great compassion
of Blessed Alexander, the Patriarch of Antioch, had become proverbial.
One of his scribes stole several gold pieces and fled to Thebaid.
However, some robbers captured him in the wilderness and they took him
with them. Learning of this, Alexander sent the robbers eighty-five
gold pieces as a ransom. That is why it was said: "The mercy of
Alexander cannot be overcome by any sin." St. John the Merciful
One writes: "The long-suffering (patience) of God is unchangeable
and His mercy is kind…How many criminals are there who go out to
kill and rob that He conceals in order that they may not be captured
and placed under tortures? Pirates sail the sea and God does not order
the sea to drown them. How many falsely swear by Holy Communion and He
tolerates not repaying them for that with evil? Robbers steal on the
road and He does not give them over to the beasts to tear them to
pieces…Libertines go off with prostitutes and He tolerates them. Why
all of this? Because He waits for repentance and conversion. Truly,
God does not want the destruction of a sinner…That is why, brethren,
let us be ashamed before the most lenient Lord God."
contemplate God's miraculous assistance to the repentant Israelites
the penitents cry out to God: do with us whatsoever You please, only
deliver us now (Judges 10);
the Spirit of the Lord descended upon Jepthah and he destroyed the
Ammonites and liberated Israel;
even today, repentance of men brings peace with God and brings down
the help of God in danger.
God's grievance against the unfaithful people
O heavens and listen, O earth, for the Lord speaks: sons have I raised
and reared but they have disowned me!" (Isaiah 1:2).
wrath, wrath of God! God turns from the chosen people in wrath and
grieves to His other creations; He grieves to the heavens and the
earth. Harken my holy and rational angels and harken all you
irrational earthly creatures! I wanted to make this people holy and
rational and they have lowered themselves beneath irrational creatures
with their impurity and ungratefulness. I have called them my sons and
exalted them and they turned their backs on me and went after foul
idols. Wrath, wrath of God, the wrath of Love, that even a thousand
times does good to a leper and that even a thousand times was spat
upon by the leper. When and if all the elements could speak, they
could, with all the living things, witness all the great miracles
which the One Living God performed for the people of Israel in Egypt
and in the wilderness, only that they turn away from idolatry and
believe in the One Living and Almighty God. This could be attested by
water and blood, by stone and wood, by darkness and fire, by frogs and
flies, by birds and serpents, by sickness and death and clouds and
smoke, by winds and manna, and copper and iron together with pharaoh
and the countless numbers of peoples miraculously defeated by the hand
of God and removed from the path of the people of Israel. But still,
they turned from God and went after idols.
the dreadful vision of Isaiah, the son of Amos, the prophet of God. O,
my brethren, just imagine what kind of vision the Prophet Isaiah would
have concerning us if he would appear today among our people!
the only living, the only Omnipotent, affix our mind and our heart to
You the true God and safeguard us; safeguard us from apostatizing from
(New Style) • August 3rd (Old Style)
Venerable Isaac (Isaacius), Dalmatus (Dalmatius), and Faust (Faustus)
Isaac is celebrated again separately on May 30. At first, St. Dalmatus
was an officer during the reign of Emperor Theodosius the Great whom
the emperor held in great esteem. When the spirit awakened in him, he
despised all earthly things, resigned his rank and took his only son
Faust and, with him, went to the community of St. Isaac in the
outskirts of Constantinople where they both were tonsured as monks.
Dalmatus was completely devoted to a god-pleasing life for which the
elder Isaac rejoiced. When Isaac approached the hour of death, he
appointed Dalmatus as abbot in his place. Later, this community was
named after him - the so-called Dalmatus. Dalmatus devoted himself to
fasting, at times for forty days. By fasting he conquered the
invisible demonic power. He participated in the Third Ecumenical
Council (Ephesus 431 A.D.) and fought against the Nestorian heresy.
Pleasing God, he died peacefully in the fifth century. His son Faust
supported his father in everything and, after a God-pleasing life,
died peacefully in this Dalmatus community.
Cosmas, the Eunuch
was a monk from the Pharan Lavra. He was well versed in Holy
Scripture. So much did he value the words of St. Athanasius the Great
that he said to his disciples: "Whenever you hear any word from
the books of St. Athanasius and, if you have no paper, write it down
on your handkerchief." In his old age, Cosmas came to Antioch to
Patriarch Gregory (+584 A.D.) and there ended his life. The patriarch
ordered that the body of Cosmas be buried in the monastery of the
partiarchate. A man frequently came to the grave of Cosmas, honoring
the saint and prayed to God there. Asked why he did this, he revealed
that he lay paralyzed for twelve years and that St. Cosmas had healed
Anthony, the Roman
was born in Rome in 1086 A.D. of devout and wealthy parents. At that
time, the Roman Church separated from the Eastern Church and all who
remained faithful to the Eastern Church were persecuted by the Roman
clergy. Among the persecuted was Anthony. He distributed all of his
inherited wealth and was tonsured a monk. Anthony lived a life of
mortification by standing on a rock in the sea for fourteen months.
Meanwhile, the rock separated from its base and by miraculous
providence sailed the waters to Novgorod. In Novgorod, Archbishop
Nicetas received him kindly and helped him build a church to the Holy
Birth-giver of God, later to become a monastery. Anthony lived a long
time as the abbot of this monastery and manifested the great power of
grace through many miracles. He died peacefully in the year 1146 A.D.
and took up habitation in the mansions of the Lord.
Salome, the Myrrh-Bearer
was the mother of the Apostles James and John, the wife of Zebedee and
the daughter of Joseph, the betrothed of the All-Holy Birth-giver of
God. She served the Lord during His earthly life and was deemed worthy
to be among the first to proclaim His resurrection.
souls read Holy Scripture with great diligence concentrating on every
word and placing themselves before the mirror of the Word of God as
before the Dread Judgment. Their diligence was so great in this that
some of the ascetics undertook distant journeys in order to come to a
spiritual sage who would interpret for them a word or a saying from
Holy Scripture. Whenever it was possible, this was accomplished
through correspondence. It is from this that a complete collection of
the letters of the saints remained (survived) such as those of Saints
Basil, Gregory, Chrysostom, Isidore of Pelusium, Nilus of Sinai and
many others. One day St. Cosmas pondered on the words of the Lord
Christ when He, in the Garden of Gethsemane, asked His disciples
whether they had a sword. When His disciples said to Him: "Lord,
behold, here are two swords. And He said to them, it is enough"
(St. Luke 22:38). Being unable to explain these words himself, St.
Cosmas decided to cross over the wilderness to the distant Lavra
called Pirga to the illustrious Abba Theophilus to inquire of him.
With great difficulty did St. Cosmas succeed to reach his goal.
Theophilus explained to him: "The two swords signify the two-fold
order of a god-pleasing life: deeds and visions, i.e., labor and
awakening of the mind to godly thoughts and prayer. Whoever has both
of these, he is perfect."
contemplate the ingratitude of the Jews toward God the Deliver and on
God's punishment (Judges 13):
the sons of Israel again did that which is wicked before the Lord;
the Lord handed them over into the hands of the Philistines for forty
the ungratefulness of a liberated people toward God the Deliver, even
today, is punished by bondage under foreigners.
human ingratitude unseen even among the animals
ox knoweth his owner and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth
not know, My people doth not consider" (Isaiah 1:3).
ingratitude of man is most strongly exposed by the gratitude of
animals. When the irrational ox knows who his master is and when the
ass knows from whose crib it is fed, how then can rational man not
know about God, His Creator and Nourisher? The word Israel means
"one who sees God." And every rational man should by his
rationality be "one who sees God", to know God, to feel the
presence of God and to serve God as once did the meek and wonderful
Jacob. But when rational man, whose entire dignity is in the knowledge
of God, does not know God, i.e., when the "one who sees God"
becomes blind toward God, then the dignity of the ox and the ass is
raised in dignity above such a man. For an ox, without exception,
recognizes his master and the ass, without exception, recognizes the
one who feeds him while among men there exists exceptions, i.e., there
exist men and, very often leaders of men, who do not recognize their
Lord nor their Nourisher. In all of created nature, godlessness is a
disease only among men for godliness is the condition of normality and
health only for men and not for animals. Thus, godlessness is not the
disease of animals but of men; alas, only of men, only they who are
destined to be "ones who see God" and who, when they lose
their godliness, become poorer than the ox and the ass.
the vision of Isaiah, the son of Amos, the Prophet of God.
O God of
meek Jacob, of Israel, enlightened one "who sees God", help
us to maintain our human dignity, the dignity of one "who sees
God" and that in every day and every hour, we may know and
recognize You with gratitude, as our Lord and Nourisher.
(New Style) • August 4th (Old Style)
Seven Holy Youths of Ephesus
was a great persecution of Christians during the reign of Decius. The
emperor himself came to Ephesus and there arranged a boisterous and
noisy celebration in honor of the lifeless idols as well as a terrible
slaughter of Christians. Seven young men, soldiers, refrained from the
impure offering of sacrifices and they earnestly prayed to the one God
to save the Christian people. They were the sons of the most
influential elders of Ephesus and their names were Maximilian,
Jamblichus, Martin (Martinian), John, Dionysius, Exacustodianus, and
Antonin (Antoninus). When they were accused before the emperor, they
retreated to a hill outside Ephesus called Celion and there they hid
in a cave. When the emperor learned of this, he commanded that the
cave be sealed off. However, God according to His far-reaching
Providence caused a miraculous and long-lasting sleep to fall upon the
young men. The imperial courtiers, Theodore and Rufinus, secret
Christians, built in that wall a copper sarcophagus with lead plaques
on which were written the names of these young men and their martyr's
death during the reign of Emperor Decius. More than two hundred years
then passed. During the reign of Emperor Theodosius the Younger
(408-450 A.D.), there was a great dispute about the resurrection.
There were some that doubted the resurrection. Emperor Theodosius was
in great sorrow as a result of this dispute among the faithful and
prayed to God that He, in some way, would reveal the truth to men. At
that time of turmoil in the Church some sheepherders of Adolius, who
owned the hill Celion began to build folds for the sheep and removed
stone after stone from that cave. The youths then awakened from their
sleep young and healthy, the same as when they fell asleep. The news
of this miracle was spread abroad on all sides so that even Theodosius
himself came with a great entourage and with delight conversed with
the youths. After a week, they again fell into the sleep of death to
await the general resurrection. Emperor Theodosius wanted to place
their bodies in gold sarcophagi but they appeared to him in a dream
and told him to leave them in the earth as they were laid out.
Priestly-Martyr Cosmas, "Equal to the Apostles"
was born in Aitolia in the village of Megadendron (Large Tree). As a
young man he went to Mount Athos where he was tonsured a monk in the
monastery Philotheus. However, driven by a constant desire to preach
the Holy Gospel to the people, Cosmas went to Constantinople where he
implored the blessing of Patriarch Seraphim II. He visited the regions
of the Danube preaching the Good News but remained mostly in Albania
where he suffered at the hands of Kurt Pasha whom the Jews incited
against Cosmas. The Turks strangled Cosmas and his body was tossed
into the river in the year 1779 A.D. His miracle-working relics repose
in the village of Kalikontasi in the church of the Holy Theotokos not
far from the town of Berat. Cosmas suffered for his Lord in the
sixty-fifth year of his life.
and it shall be given to you," said the Lord (St. Matthew 7:7).
As parents give to their children all that the children ask and all
that is for their benefit, so does God, the Lover of Mankind, give to
men all that men ask of God and what serves to their salvation. As a
monk on Mt. Athos, Cosmas asked two things of God: to preach the
Gospel to the people and to suffer as a martyr for the Faith. For an
Athonite monk, who is bound by vows to his monastery, these two
desires seem unattainable and unrealistic. But to God, everything is
possible. God perfectly fulfilled both desires of Cosmas. The joy of
Cosmas was indescribable when he received the blessing of the
patriarch that he could leave Mt. Athos and go among the people to
preach the Good News. Cosmas had one more similar moment of joy and,
that was when the servants of the Turkish Pasha informed him that,
according to the command of the Pasha, he must die.
joy, the saint sank to his knees, gave thanks to God that He fulfilled
even this desire and gave up his body to death and his soul to the
contemplate the miraculous announcement of the birth of Samson (Judges
an angel of God appeared to Manoah and his barren wife and announced
that his wife will give birth to a son, who will deliver the people
for this, Manoah offered a sacrifice to God and an angel, in the flame
of the sacrifice, ascended to heaven;
even a barren woman can give birth when God wills it.
the sickness of apostasy
whole head is sick and the whole heart faint" (Isaiah1:5).
God, the God of Sabaoth, is the source of health. Go out to the
heights of God, you whose heads are troubled by superfluous works and
still more by superfluous concerns and be imbued with health which
comes from God, only from God. A sick head those are the leaders and
the elders of the people and a faint heart- those are the people. The
prophet presents an entire people as one body and shows how even with
the body of a people, the same thing happens as with body of a man,
i.e., when one organ of the body is sick, then only that organ is
sick, but from the sickness of this one organ, the entire body feels
faint. So it was with the people of Israel: the head was sick and from
a sick head, the heart is faint. The leaders and the elders of Israel
abandoned the law of God and followed their senses as their guides.
Their sensual mind, tarnished, overly tarnished from the various
worldly influences, they took as their direction for a correct life
instead of the law of God. They fell into the hopeless darkness of
idolatrous errors. And from the insanity of the head, the heart was
faint. It is more difficult for the heart to separate from God than it
is for the head, it is more difficult for a people to separate from
God than their elders, but when the head remains sick for a long time,
than the heart is faint and yields. From corrupt leaders, even a
people finally stray from the path.
the vision of Isaiah, the son of Amos, the true prophet. Indeed, a
true vision, both for then and for now, for the people of Israel and
for the people of today. Brethren, look at the people whom you know
best and you alone judge, is the head sick and is the heart faint? O
Lord, true and just, enlighten the head of every people with Your
light and strengthen with Your might the heart of every people, so
that our enemies will not rejoice and say that You have abandoned us.
(New Style) • August 5th (Old Style)
Holy Martyr Eusignius
served as a soldier under Emperor Maximian, Emperor Constantine the
Great and under Constantine's sons. He was present during the
torturing of the holy female martyr Basiliscus (May 22). He saw
myriads of angels and the Lord Jesus Himself as He received the soul
of this holy martyr from the angels. Eusignius fought under Emperor
Constantine and saw the Cross which appeared to the emperor. He served
in the army for sixty full years and during the reign of Constantine's
sons resigned from military service and settled in Antioch, the place
of his birth. There, he lived a god-pleasing life in fasting, prayer
and good works. During the time of Julian the Apostate, two men who
were arguing on the street asked him to be their judge. He dispensed
justice to the correct one and the man at fault became angry and went
to the emperor and accused Eusignius of being a Christian. The emperor
summoned Eusignius to court but he strongly denounced the emperor for
his apostasy from the Faith and reproached him with the shining
example of Constantine the Great. The enraged Julian ordered that he
be beheaded. Eusignius was martyred at a ripe old age in the year 362
A.D. and took up habitation in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Priestly-Martyr Fabian, Pope of Rome
was a Roman by birth. At first, he was a village priest and, after
that, during the election of a pope, when a white dove descended upon
him, he was chosen pope. Fabian was meek and kind. With great
diligence, he gathered the bodies of the holy martyrs and buried them
with honor and built churches over their graves. In the same manner,
he built shrines and chapels in the caves where the martyrs hid during
the time of bitter persecution. He baptized Emperor Philip and his son
Philip, the heir to the throne and, with the help of the baptized
senator Pontius, destroyed many idols and idolatrous temples. When the
wicked Decius was crowned emperor, a terrible persecution of
Christians began during which St. Fabian suffered and was beheaded in
the year 250 A.D. This holy Fabian established the custom of
consecrating Holy Myron (Chrism) on Holy and Great Thursday.
Holy Martyr Pontius, the Senator
was the son of Senator Marcus and his wife Julia. The barren Julia
conceived after twenty-two years of marriage and gave birth to
Pontius. He was baptized by Pope Pontian along with his friend
Valerius, his biographer, and succeeded to convert his father Marcus,
the Emperor Philip with his son and many other distinguished Romans to
the Faith of Christ. As a senator, he greatly protected and assisted
the Church and was a good friend of Pope Fabian. When the persecution
began under Decius, Pontius escaped from Rome and hid in the foothills
of the Alpine mountains (Cimella Cimez, France). During the reigns of
Valerian and Galiena he was captured and subjected to harsh tortures
during which many miracles of God were manifested and many converted
to Christ. There happened to be many Jews there who cried out to the
judge: "Kill him, kill him immediately, this magician." To
this, St. Pontius raised his hands to heaven and said: "I thank
You my God that the Jews even cry out against me as their fathers did
once cried out against Christ: 'Crucify Him, crucify Him.'"
Pontius was beheaded in the year 257 A.D. and was buried by his friend
was the mother of St. Gregory the Theologian. As a Christian, she
possessed powerful and miracle-working prayer. By her prayer to God,
she converted her husband from heathen stupidity to the Christian
Faith. Her husband Gregory later became a bishop in the town of
Nazianzus. By prayer Nonna saved her son Gregory the Theologian from a
storm. She died peacefully as a deaconess in the year 374 A.D.
how Valerian begins the biography of his companion, St. Pontius:
"Who can believe, if God does not grant it? Who can lead a life
of asceticism, if the Lord does not help? Who can receive the wreath
of martyrdom, if Christ does not give it?" God can do all and God
wills all that is for the salvation of men, if only men pray to Him.
By prayer, St. Nonna converted her husband Gregory and her son,
Gregory the Theologian, to Christianity. By prayer, Monica brought
Augustine back from a wayward life to the path of good works and
faith. By prayer, St. Basil converted his teacher Evulios. By prayer,
King Hezekiah prolonged his life for fifteen years. By prayer, St.
Simeon the Stylite turned back the Persians and Scythians that they
not attack the land of Greece with an army already prepared.
Furthermore, all the stars in the heavens will be more readily counted
then all the miracles worked on earth by prayer.
contemplate the miraculous strength of Samson (Judges 14):
the Spirit of the Lord came upon him so that he was able to tear lions
apart with his hands and to snap the rope by which he was bound and
slew many Philistines;
the Spirit of the Lord withdrew from him (Samson) when he confided the
secret of his strength to a heathen woman (Delilah) and was then slain
how God whitens the repentant sinners
your sins be like scarlet, they may be as white as snow; though they
be red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isaiah 1:18).
boundless mercy of God! In His greatest wrath upon the faithless and
ungrateful people, upon the people "laden with iniquity, a seed
of evildoers, children that are corrupters" (Isaiah 1:4), as
"princes (rulers) of Sodom" (Isaiah 1:10) and upon the
people who have become as the "people of Gomorrah" (Isaiah
1:10) - in such wrath, the Lord does not abandon mercy but rather
calls them to repentance. Just as after terrible lightnings, a gentle
rain falls. Such is the Lord long-suffering (patient) and full of
mercy and "neither will He keep His anger forever" (Psalm
103:9). Only if sinners cease to commit evil and learn to do good and
turn to God with humility and repentance they will become "white
as snow." The Lord is mighty and willing. No one, except Him, is
able to cleanse the sinful soul of man from sin and, by cleansing, to
whiten it. No matter how often linen is washed in water with ashes and
soap, no matter how often it is washed and rewashed, it cannot receive
whiteness until it is spread under the light of the sun. Thus, our
soul cannot become white, no matter how often we cleanse it by our own
effort and labor even with the help of all legal means of the law
until we, at last, bring it beneath the feet of God, spread out and
opened wide so that the light of God illumines it and whitens it. The
Lord condones and even commends all of our labor and effort, i.e., He
wants us to bathe our soul in tears, by repentance to constrain it by
the pangs of the conscience to press it, to clothe it with good deeds
and in the end of ends, He calls us to Him: "Come now," says
the Lord, "and let us reason together" (Isaiah 1:18). That
is, I will look at you and I will see if there is Me in you and you
will look upon Me as in a mirror and you will see what kind of person
slow to anger, have mercy on us before the last wrath of that Dreadful
(New Style) • August 6th (Old Style)
Transfiguration of Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ
third year of His preaching, the Lord Jesus often spoke to His
disciples of His approaching passion but at the same time of His glory
following His suffering on the Cross. So that His impending passion
would not totally weaken His disciples and that no one would fall away
from Him, He, the All-wise, wanted to partially show them His divine
glory before His passion. For that reason, He took Peter, James and
John with Him and, with them, went out at night to Mt. Tabor and there
was transfigured before them: "And His face shone as the sun and
His garments became white as snow" (St. Matthew 17:2). There
appeared along side Him, Moses and Elijah, the great Old Testament
prophets. And, seeing this, His disciples were amazed. Peter said:
"Lord, it is good for us to be here: if You will, let us make
here three tabernacles; one for You, one for Moses and one for
Elijah" (St. Matthew 17:4). While Peter still spoke, Moses and
Elijah departed and a bright cloud overshadowed the Lord and His
disciples and there came a voice from the cloud saying: "This is
my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased; hear Him" (St. Matthew
17:5). Hearing the voice, the disciples fell to the ground on their
faces as though dead and remained that way, lying in fear, until the
Lord came near to them and said: "Arise and be not afraid"
(St. Matthew 17:7). Why did the Lord take only three disciples on
Tabor and not all? Because Judas was not worthy to behold the divine
glory of the Teacher, Whom he will betray and the Lord did not want to
leave him (Judas) alone at the foot of the mountain so that the
betrayer would not, by that, justify his betrayal. Why was our Lord
transfigured on a mountain and not in a valley? So as to teach us two
virtues: love of labor and godly-thoughts. For, climbing to the
heights required labor and height represents the heights of our
thoughts, i.e., godly-thoughts. Why was our Lord transfigured at
night? Because, the night rather than the day is more suitable for
prayer and godly-thoughts and because the night, by its darkness,
conceals all the beauty of the earth and reveals the beauty of the
starry heavens. Why did Moses and Elijah appear? In order to destroy
the error of the Jews, as though Christ is one of the prophets; Elijah
or Jeremiah or some other that is why He appears as a King above the
prophets and that is why Moses and Elijah appear as His servants.
Until then, our Lord manifested His divine power many times to the
disciples but, on Mt. Tabor, He manifested His divine nature. This
vision of His Divinity and the hearing of the heavenly witness about
Him as the Son of God, should serve the disciples in the days of the
Lord's passion, in strengthening of an unwavering faith in Him and His
our Lord not manifest His divine glory on Tabor before all the
disciples instead of before three of them? First, because He Himself
gave the Law through the mouth of Moses: "At the mouth of two
witnesses or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be
established" (Deuteronomy 19:15). Therefore, three witnesses are
sufficient. These three witnesses represent three main virtues: Peter
Faith, for he was the first to confess his faith in Christ as the Son
of God; James Hope, for, with faith in the promise of Christ, he was
the first who laid down his life for the Lord, being the first to be
slain by the Jews; John Love, for he reclined on the bosom of the Lord
and remained beneath the Cross of the Lord until the end. God is not
called the God of many but rather the God of the chosen. "I am
the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob"
(Exodus 3:6). God often valued a faithful man more than an entire
nation. Thus, on many occasions, He wanted to destroy the entire
Jewish nation, but because of the prayers of righteous Moses, spared
that nation to live. God listened more to the faithful Prophet Elijah
than to the entire unbelieving kingdom of Ahab. Because of the prayers
of one man, God towns and people. Thus, the sinful town of Ustiug was
to be destroyed by fire and hail had it not been saved by the prayers
of the one and only righteous man in it, St. Procopius, the "fool
for Christ" (July 8).
contemplate the Providence of God, which rewarded the virtue of Ruth
and Boaz (The Book of Ruth):
Ruth, being left a widow, remained faithful to Naomi, her aged
mother-in-law and, by her labors, fed both, Naomi and herself;
the wealthy Boaz was merciful and helped these two poor women;
Boaz and Ruth entered into marriage from whom was born Obed, the
father of Jesse, who was the father of David.
the exaltation of the Church of God
it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the
Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains and
shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow into
it" (Isaiah 2:2).
prophecy pertains to the Church of Christ. However much of this
prophecy could seem to be mysterious to the Jews before Christ, so
much more is it completely clear for us today. Mountain or height: the
house of the Lord is truly established "in the top of the
mountains", i.e., in the heights of the heavens, for the Church
of Christ, first, is not sustained by the earth but rather by the
heavens and finally, one part of the members of the Church (and now, a
greater part) is to be found in heaven, while the other part is still
the Church of Christ is "exalted above the hills", i.e.,
above all earthly and human greatness. Human philosophy and art and
all the cultures of people as well as all earthly values represent
only the low hills in comparison to the infinite heights of Christ's
Church. For it was not difficult for the Church to create all of those
hills, while neither one of them, nor all of them together, in the
course of many thousands of years, was able to create the Church.
the prophet says: "all nations shall flow into it." To what,
truly, up to now, have all the nations flowed if not into the Church
of Christ? The Temple of Jerusalem was inaccessible to the Gentiles
under the penalty of death. The Church, however, from the beginning
called all nations on earth, obedient to the command of the Lord:
"Go ye therefore and teach all nations" (St. Matthew 28:19).
the vision of Isaiah, the son of Amos, a vision from afar, a vision
truthful and wonderful.
Wonderful Lord, we give You unceasing thanks that You have made us
worthy to be the children of Your Holy and True Church that is exalted
above all the worldly heights.
(New Style) • August 7th (Old Style)
Venerable Martyr Dometius
was born in Persia as a pagan during the reign of Emperor Constantine.
He became acquainted with the Faith of Christ as a young man,
abandoned paganism and was baptized. So much did Dometius love the
True Faith that he left everything worldly and was tonsured a monk in
a monastery near the town of Nisibis. He lived for some time among the
brethren and then withdrew to a life of silence to be with an a
certain elder Archmandrite Urbel, about whom it is said that he did
not eat anything cooked for sixty years. The elder Urbel ordained
Dometius a deacon and when he wanted to compel him to receive the rank
of a priest, Dometius withdrew to an isolated mountain and settled in
a cave. He attained such a high degree of perfection through fasting,
prayer, all night vigils and godly-thoughts that he cured the sick.
When Julian the Apostate came to those regions, he heard of Dometius
and sent men, who sealed him alive in the cave along with two of his
disciples. Thus, this saint of God died and took up habitation in the
Kingdom of God in the year 363 A.D.
Venerable Or, Hermit of Thebaid
attained great perfection through the greatest mortification. When he
firmly established himself and attained holiness in solitude, he then
gradually established several monasteries and was a superb spiritual
leader and teacher of many monks. Rufinus, who visited him describes
Or in the following way: "In his dress (habit), he resembled an
angel of God; a ninety-year old elder with a long beard, as white as
snow; externally was very pleasant. His gaze shone with something
super human." Often times, he saw the angels of God. He
especially endeavored never to speak an untruth. He had great
temptations from the demons but overpowered them all soberly and
courageously. He received Holy Communion daily. On one occasion, one
of his disciples reminded him that the Feast of the Resurrection had
come and that it should be celebrated. Hearing this, Or came out,
raised his hands to heaven and spent three days in prayer without
rest. He explained to his disciple: "For the monk, this is the
celebration of the Resurrection of Christ: to elevate his mind and to
unite it with God." He rested in deep old age about the year 390
Holy Martyrs Marinus and Asterius
was a soldier and Asterius was a Roman senator. At the time of Emperor
Gallienus, St. Marinus served as a soldier in Caesarea in Palestine.
Marinus was beheaded for the sake of the Faith of Christ. Asterius,
the senator, also a Christian, was present at his martyrdom. He
removed his dolman and, with it, wrapped the body of the martyr,
placed it on his shoulders, took it and honorably buried it. Seeing
this, the pagans beheaded him also. They both died honorably for
Christ about the year 260 A.D.
Venerable Pimen (Poemen), the greatly afflicted one
was sickly from his youth and from his youth desired the monastic
life. Brought to the Lavra of the Caves in Kiev for healing, he
remained there until his death. Pimen prayed to God, more for
sickness, than for health. At night, angels appeared to him and
tonsured him a monk. On that occasion, the angels informed him that he
will be ill until his death and, just before his death, will become
healthy. And so, it was. Pimen was bedridden for twenty years. He
worked miracles during his lifetime and was unusually discerning. Just
prior to his death, he rose from the bed completely whole and
immediately prepared a grave for himself. He rested in the Lord in the
year 1110 A.D.
Priestly-Martyr Narcissus, Patriarch of Jerusalem
was beheaded at the time of Antoninus in the year 213 A.D. being one
hundred sixteen years of age.
concern yourself about the righteous nor envy the sinner. Remember
always that the Lord Christ, by His resurrection, conquered a shameful
death and that Herod, Judas, Nero, Julian the Apostate, Valerian, Leo
the Armenian and other opponents of Christ, by a shameful death
mortalized forever their temporary successes and victories. Envious
ones slandered St. Narcissus the Patriarch for violating his chastity.
The innocent Narcissus withdrew into the wilderness and spent many
years in silence and patiently waited for God to do His will. Three
patriarchs followed him (on the patriarchal throne) and only then did
men come forward and clearly prove his innocence. Then everyone forced
him to return from the wilderness to his throne. Thus, God justifies
the righteous. The bloody Emperor Valerian, with satanic passion,
murdered Christians throughout the entire world (Roman Empire). How
did he end up? In battle with the Persians, he was defeated and
enslaved by King Sapor. Sapor did not desire to kill him immediately
but used him as a mounting block whenever he wanted to mount a horse.
Every day, King Sapor's servants brought Valerian along with a horse
and Sapor enjoyed placing his foot on the neck of the Roman Emperor in
order to make it easier for him to mount the horse. He who sows an
evil seed reaps an evil harvest.
contemplate the mercy of God toward the barren Hannah, the mother of
Samuel (1 Samuel 1 1 Kings 1):
Hannah was barren and in her sorrow implored God that she give birth
to a son, promising to dedicate him to God;
God heard the prayers of Hannah and she gave birth to a son and called
him Samuel (besought from God);
Hannah brought Samuel to the Temple and dedicated him to God.
the new law from Zion
out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the Lord from
Jerusalem" (Isaiah 2:3).
prophet speaks of a new law and of a new word. The old law was given
on Sinai and the new law will come from Zion. The old law was given
through Moses and the new law, the Lord Christ Himself will bring.
That (the old law) was intended in the beginning only for the Jews,
and this one (the new law), will be directed to all peoples and all of
mankind. Even though these words of the prophet are clear, however,
the Jews could not understand them nor do they understand them today.
The meaning of these words is closed to them because of their stony
hearts. To whom do they (the Jews) apply these words? To no one. How
do they (the Jews) interpret these words? They do not. They pass by
these words as a blind man passes by an open door. If they were able
to comprehend these words, would they have then acted in such a manner
as they acted with the prophet and the prophesied One (Christ)? Would
they have sawn Isaiah and crucified Christ on the Cross?
considered the law of Moses to be the only and final law of God. That
is why they were unable to comprehend the meaning of the prophecy of
the new law from Zion, i.e., from the House of David, for David
glorified Zion. But if the Jews did not know to comprehend the new law
through the old law, we Christians know that through the new law we
comprehend the old law. The Jews only had a tree without fruit but we
have the tree and the fruit. They only had an image without reality,
but we have both reality and the image. They adhered only to promises
and that, incorrectly understood, but we have the promises and the
All-rich Lord, Who has enriched us with Your spiritual law and Your
life-giving words, You only do we worship and to You only do we pray;
grant us wisdom and power to live according to Your law and to uphold
Your holy word, so that we may not become poor before You, Who has
made us rich!
(New Style) • August 8th (Old Style)
Emilian the Confessor, Bishop of Cyzicus
served as bishop in Cyzicus during the reign of the nefarious Emperor
Leo the Armenian, the iconoclast. Since he did not want to submit to
the decrees of the emperor concerning the removal of icons from the
churches, Emilian and other Orthodox bishops were banished into exile.
He spent five years in exile, enduring much pain and humiliation for
the sake of Christ. Emilian died in they year 820 A.D. and took up
habitation among the citizens of heaven.
Myron, Miracle-Worker and Bishop of Crete
first, Myron was married and engaged in farming. Myron, gladly and
abundantly distributed the fruits of his land to needy people. At one
time, he encountered unknown thieves stealing wheat from his threshing
floor. Not telling them who he was, St. Myron helped the thieves fill
the sacks, lift them on their backs and to escape. Because of his
exceptional virtues, Myron was ordained a presbyter and after that
consecrated a bishop. He was a great miracle-worker and performed many
good and mighty works in the name of the Lord Jesus. Myron died about
the year 350 A.D. in the hundredth year of his life.
Venerable Gregory Sinaite
is called Sinaite because he received the monastic tonsure on Mount
Sinai. During the reign of Emperor Andronicus Palaeologus, about the
year 1330 A.D., he arrived at Mt. Athos to visit the monasteries and
to inquire about the practice of mental prayer and contemplation.
However, these two forms of spiritual works (exercises), at that time,
were almost unknown among the holy Athonites. The only one who knew
this and practiced it to perfection was St. Maximus of Kapsokalyvia.
Gregory spread his teaching about mental prayer throughout all the
cells and monasteries on Mt. Athos. His distinguished disciple was
Kallistos, the Patriarch of Constantinople, who wrote the biography of
St. Gregory. After that, Gregory crossed over to Macedonia and to the
other regions of the Balkans and established communities in which the
monks practiced mental prayer. Thus, he assisted many to be immersed
in prayer and to be saved. His writings about mental prayer and
asceticism can be found in the book "Dobrotoljublja The
Philokalia." Among other things, he wrote the refrains to the
Holy Trinity, "It is meet and right", which is sung at the
Midnight Service of the Resurrection. Gregory ranks among the most
eminent ascetics and spiritual teachers of the Balkans. He died
peacefully after a long and laborious life and took up habitation in
the Kingdom of God.
Holy Neo-martyrs Triandaphyllos and Spaso
was born in Zagora and Spaso was born in Radoviste in the Diocese of
Strumica. They were both Slavs. Both were young and simple men. But
their love for Christ was more precious to them than this world or
this life. They gave their lives and did not betray Christ. They
suffered at the hands of the Turks for the Faith of Christ:
Triandaphyllos in Constantinople in the year 1680 A.D. and Spaso in
Thessalonica in the year 1794 A.D.
Holy Martyr Gormizdas
was a nobleman at the court of the Persian Emperor Yezdegeherd. Since
he chose not to deny Christ, the emperor saddened Gormizdas, by
confiscating his rank and property and sent him to tend livestock. The
emperor hoped that Gormizdas would quickly long for his rank and
property and that he would worship the idols. However, the king was
fooled. Gormizdas peacefully tended the livestock and kept his faith.
For that, the emperor subjected him to cruel tortures, which only
succeeded to exhaust the body of Christ's martyr but was unable to
alter his spirit. Finally, Gormizdas was slain in the year 418 A.D.
immediately after the martyrdom of St. Abdus the bishop (March 31).
Gormizdas was martyred on earth and glorified in heaven.
spoke to the sons of Israel: "I have set before you life and
death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life…that you may
live" (Deuteronomy 30:19). There are some decisive moments in the
life of men when, indeed, it is left up to man to choose between life
or death. Judas, in a decisive moment, was corrupted by silver and he
chose death, i.e., the sin of avarice (greed). When the general wanted
to elevate Marinus the soldier (August 7) to the rank of an officer
(centurion), envious men accused him of being a Christian. The general
permitted him only three hours to contemplate and to choose between
life or death, i.e., either to deny Christ or to die. Marinus, hearing
the words of his superior, went to the local bishop, Theotechnus, and
asked him for advice. The bishop led Marinus into the church, stood
him before the Gospel and pointing his hand, at first to the Gospel
and after that to the sword which hung from Marinus' waist, said to
him: "Choose courageous man, one of these two; either to wear the
sword and serve the earthly king temporarily and, after death, be lost
eternally or to become a soldier of the Heavenly King and lay down
your life for His Holy Name which is written in this Book and to reign
with Him in eternal life." Marinus immediately decided, kissed
the Book of the Holy Gospel and departed through death into life
contemplate the miraculous appearance of God to the child Samuel (1
Samuel 3 1 Kings 3):
one night when Samuel was lying down, the Lord called him three times
the Lord related to Samuel the threat to the House of Eli (Heli)
because of the corruptness of the sons of Eli and a threat to all of
the Lord did not want to appear either to Eli, the high priest or to
his sons but rather to Samuel, an innocent child.
the peace-making of Christ
they (the people) shall beat their swords into plowshares and their
spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against
nation, neither shall they learn war anymore" (Isaiah 2:4).
clearly the prophet sees Christ the Peacemaker! One by one, the
prophet points out the dignity of the Savior. First of all, the
prophet pointed Him out as the Lawgiver of the new law, a law for all
the peoples on earth. After that the prophet pointed out His
exaultedness above all heights, earthly and historical. And now, the
prophet points Him out as the Peacemaker whose power and love will
forge (beat) swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. Has
this great prophecy about peace been fulfilled? Yes it has, in spite
of the fact that wars still exist. Behold, wars among Christian
peoples are not the same as wars among pagans. Pagans fought with
pride while Christians fight with shame. Pagan faiths inhabited their
heaven only with warriors and the Christian Faith promises heaven to
the saints. As Christians, by their weakness, repeat certain other
pagan sins, so they repeat the sin of waging war. However, God
examines the heart and knows with what disposition the pagans sin and
with what disposition the Christians sin. The Pharisees denied Christ,
Peter also denied Him. But the Pharisees denied Him with unrepentant
malice and Peter denied Him in shame and again, confessed Him with
brethren, what can we say concerning the swords and spears of passions
by which we kill our souls and the souls of our fellow men? O, when we
would beat those swords into plowshares that deeply plow the souls and
sow the noble seed of Christ in ourselves! And when we would beat the
spears into pruning hooks to harvest the tares in our souls and to
burn them! Then the peace of Christ would take up abode in the souls
of all of us, just as it abided in the souls of the saints. Who then
would even think about war against his neighbors and against
wondrous is the vision of Isaiah, the son of Amos, the prophet of God!
beat the weapons of war in us into instruments of peace by the fire of